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Scottish fishing sector favours illegal fisheries in occupied waters

Leading figures from the Scottish fishing sector pled for the continuation of the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement, at a conference hosted by Scottish MEP Struan Stevenson last Thursday in Gibraltar.
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Struan Stevenson, Scottish conservative MEP, is convinced that the much criticised EU-Morocco fish pact should be extended. “If the EU walks away from this critical deal, Russia, China or Korea would be sure to step in. In such circumstances, conservation efforts and jobs would disappear. Also, more than 100 Spanish trawlers would be displaced back into EU waters, where most fish stocks are already fully exploited”.

Yet an independent evaluation study issued by a consultancy firm at the request of the European Commission, shows that all stocks in Morocco and Western Sahara are already fully exploited. As a consequence, continued EU fishing could severely harm the region’s fish stocks, the evaluation reads.

The report also concluded that the European Union's controversial fisheries agreement with Morocco is the least cost-effective of all the EU's existing fishing deals with third countries. Every euro invested under the agreement generated just €0.65 in added value.

Not only has the agreement been costing the EU millions of Euros and has it contributed to depleting the fish stocks in both Morocco and Western Sahara, it is also considered in violation of international law by UN and EU lawyers. In 2002, the UN issued a legal opinion stipulating that economic activities in Western Sahara could only be lawful if they’d take into account the wishes and interests of the people of the territory. For failing in both aspects, the European Parliament’s lawyers in July 2009 labelled the fish agreement with Morocco to be violation of international law.

But these elements were not discussed at the Gibraltar conference. Instead, the floor was given to Ian Gatt, chief executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen’s Association (SPFA), and George Nicol, owner of the Scottish boat “Krossfjord” that has been fishing occupied Western Sahara’s waters for years. Nicol also owns a processing plant in Dakhla, all the way in the south of Africa’s last colony.

Ian Gatt was quoted saying: “Scottish fishing operations have provided a huge number of jobs in the Western Sahara area and should be rewarded for this initiative.” He added that the UK has had a “positive effect in the Western Saharan territory.”

People from the territory, the Saharawi, living either under the yoke of Moroccan occupation or in forgotten refugee camps in the inhospitable Algerian desert, were not invited to explain how their lives have been affected by the EU’s fish deal with the regime occupying their homeland.


News archive:
01.12 - 20117 Dec: Conference on EU fisheries in European Parliament
24.11 - 2011Parliament committee approves Morocco fisheries deal
07.11 - 2011Two EU Parliament committees reject EU-Morocco Fish Pact
06.11 - 2011Bastagli: Europe turns its back on the Arab Spring's forgotten nation
03.11 - 2011Sharks in danger of extinction in Western Sahara
24.10 - 2011Scottish fishing sector favours illegal fisheries in occupied waters
11.10 - 2011Budget rapporteur calls for rejection of fish pact
10.10 - 2011Development rapporteur urges Parliament to thumb down fish deal
04.10 - 2011Commission criticised over handling of Morocco agreement
24.09 - 2011Fisheries rapporteur recommends end to EU-Morocco fish pact
07.09 - 2011Divisive Fish Pact possibly referred to European Court of Justice
01.09 - 2011MEPs' disappointment with fisheries agreement with Morocco
08.08 - 2011Ireland unsatisfied by Moroccan fish report
13.07 - 2011EU Council and Morocco sign extension illegal fish pact


The EU considers to pay Morocco to fish in occupied Western Sahara. An EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement from 2013 would be both politically controversial and in violation of international law. The international Fish Elsewhere! campaign demands the EU to avoid such unethical operations, and go fishing somewhere else. No fishing in Western Sahara should take place until the conflict is solved.
عريضة لوقف النهب


يحضر الاتحاد الاوربي لإبرام اتفاق غير اخلاقي جديد للصيد البحري مع المغرب في سنة 2013.

مرة اخرى، يعتزم الاتحاد الاوربي الصيد في المياه الاقليمية للصحراء الغربية المحتلة في خرق سافر للقانون الدولي. وقع هذه العريضة للتنديد بذلك.

"EU fisheries in Western Sahara must be stopped"

Western Sahara human rights activist Aminatou Haidar hopes for increased attention to the EU plundering of occupied Western Sahara.


10.04 - 2012
Guardian: EU taking its over-fishing habits to west African waters?
15.12 - 2011
EU Observer: Morocco expels EU fishing boats
15.12 - 2011
BBC News: Morocco's fish fight: High stakes over Western Sahara
15.12 - 2011
European Voice: MEPs reject EU-Morocco fisheries pact
15.12 - 2011
Reuters: EU lawmakers reject Morocco fisheries pact

Human rights activist Malak Amidane denounces EU fisheries